Isles MP Angus MacNeil has expressed incredulity after new Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael wrote to all Scottish MPs on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) convergence uplift, in which he states that the CAP allocation for Scotland is a fair, positive and stable package, when in reality it will deprive Scottish Agriculture of money that was intended for Scotland.
Angus MacNeil commented:
“It is stunning that the cross party will of the Scottish Parliament has not been listened to by the Lib Dem Scottish Secretary who instead has taken the script from the Westminster Tories who are dishing out Euro cash intended for crofters and farmers in Scotland to the lush shire pastures in the southern UK.
This letter shows that just a few weeks into his job Mr Carmichael has become Westminster’s man in Scotland rather than representing Scotland’s interests. “Instead of standing up for Scottish farming, Alistair Carmichael is standing up for Owen Paterson – his priorities are all wrong.
“There has been cross-party consensus in the Scottish Parliament that the convergence uplift must come to Scotland, yet UK Ministers have shown again that they are simply not listening, and worse Mr Carmichael is happy to follow his Tory leaders.
“People in rural Scotland have expressed deep concern about the way the UK Government is short changing Scottish agriculture over CAP support, and Mr Carmichael’s letter will only add to that concern.
What makes this worse is that the UK only qualified for the convergence uplift because Scotland has fallen so far behind the rest of the UK and Europe in terms of area payments per hectare. The UK has received an uplift of 230 million Euros in its CAP funding allocation because of the historically low rates of support per hectare paid in Scotland compared to farmers in other parts of the UK. The situation faced by crofters in island areas makes us the worst part of Scotland for hectare payments. However rather than use the uplift for its intended purpose , the UK government has divided the extra funding across the UK, depriving Scottish farmers of what is due to them .
“Thanks to the Tory-Liberal coalition, Scotland now languishes at the bottom of the European table in both direct payments and Rural Development Funding, RDF, the convergence uplift is intended to create a more level playing field for Scotland’s farmers. Once again, Westminster cannot be trusted.
“If crofters want to stop being short changed Mr Carmichael’s letter makes it clearer than ever, that a Yes vote next year offers the best solution for Scotland’s farming and rural communities.”